WASHINGTON—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security team was accused Wednesday of taking part in an unprovoked attack on protesters in the U.S. capital, marring a Washington visit for the second year in a row.
District of Columbia police have joined the Secret Service and State Department in an investigation of what Police Chief Peter Newsham said appeared to be an unprovoked and “brutal attack on peaceful protesters” that sent nine people to the hospital on Tuesday. One police officer and two members of the Secret Service were also injured in the clashes, according to the police and a U.S. official.
The attacks were captured on video and shared widely on social media, drawing denunciations from the State Department, U.S. lawmakers, the city’s mayor, and the police chief.
“This is the United States of America,” U.S. Sen. John McCain, (R., Ariz.), said on Twitter. “We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this thuggish behavior.”
According to protesters and video showing the attacks, a few dozen demonstrators marched to the Turkish ambassador’s residence, where Mr. Erdogan was speaking, to protest his first official visit to Washington to meet President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday.
The demonstrators included a mix of people opposed to Mr. Erdogan’s crackdown on opposition lawmakers, journalists, diplomats and military officers. They were met by a group of Erdogan supporters, District of Columbia police and members of the Turkish president’s security detail.
The Turkish Embassy cast the demonstrators as terrorist sympathizers of Kurdish separatists known as the PKK who were “aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled” to support Mr. Erdogan. The Erdogan supporters “responded in self-defense,” leaving one seriously injured, the Embassy said.
“The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration,” the Embassy said. “We hope that, in the future, appropriate measure will be taken to ensure that similar provocative actions causing harm and violence do not occur.”